- Berkeley Castle in Gloucestershire is an 11th-century castle with a fascinating history of murder, royalty and war.
- See rooms and gardens from across the eras inside of Berkeley Castle.
- See beautiful butterflies in the Berkeley Castle Butterfly House.
- Go on a fascinating guided tour or enjoy one of the brilliant Berkeley Castle events.
Berkeley Castle, sometimes spelt Berkley or Barkley, is a castle in Berkeley, Gloucestershire, just an hour away from the Forest of Dean. The castle is from the 11th-century and has been with the Berkeley family since the 12th-century when they reconstructed it. If you're looking for historic houses, it's the oldest house to be continually occupied, and the third-oldest continuously occupied castle in England. It's believed to have been the place of the murder of Edward II. If you're interested in castles to visit in England like Warwick Castle or Bodiam Castle, or just days out in Gloucestershire, then you'll want to visit Berkeley Castle.
Berkeley Castle history is full of mystery. The initial Berkeley Castle was a motte-and-bailey castle in 1067, held for three generations by the de Berkeley family, all called Roger de Berkeley. It was then taken from the family in 1152 because Roger refused to support the House of Plantagenet. His feudal barony, the title Baron Berkeley, was given to Robert Fitzharding, the forefather of the Berkeley family which still holds the castle. He rebuilt the castle again in the 12th-century, but most of the castle is 14th-century and was built for Thomas de Berkeley, 3rd Baron Berkeley. In 1327, Edward II was removed from the throne by his wife Queen Isabella and Roger Mortimer, and he was taken to Berkeley Castle to stay with Mortimer's son-in-law. Edward was rescued but potentially recaptured. There is evidence that Edward was rescued and someone else pretended to be Edward when he was recaptured. Some sources suggest Edward was moved around between castles after the rescue attempt. Edward, or his replacement, was murdered on the 21st September 1327. Parliament was told it was an accident, but historical sources say that his murder was kept secret. The body lay in the Castle for a month before he was buried at Gloucester Abbey. Thomas was charged, but they were all cleared in 1337. The Castle has had other royal visitors like Queen Elizabeth I, was captured during the English Civil War and has rebuilt several pieces of the castle like the Chapel of St Mary.
Explore a variety of different rooms within one of the most interesting and oldest historic houses in England. Go to the oldest part of Berkeley Castle as you travel to the Keep, Edward's Cell and King's Gallery. The Keep surrounded the Castle's motte and made it stronger. Portraits of monarchs line the walls, as well as fantastic furniture, very close to where Edward II was kept. The Dining Room displays Georgian silverware and family portraits. For more pictures, the Berkeley Castle Picture Gallery has a large number of Dutch paintings, particularly of ships with connections to Berkeley. You can discover the historic Tower Room, which was a safe place during a siege. The Mediaeval Larders, Buttery and Kitchen of Berkeley Castle are from the 14th century, and not much has changed since then. The Buttery has lead sinks, a historic pestle and mortar, and a variety of other kitchen utensils. Arches on the wall demonstrate where early bread ovens were. An underground route leads from the Buttery to the well to get water. The kitchen has a unique spider-web ceiling which is high enough to stop it catching on fire from the ovens. The Berkeley Castle Great Hall was the home of dining in the castle. The Hall was built on the site of the original one and is decorated with Oudenarde tapestries illustrating the History of Queen Esther. For more historic Berkeley embroidery, head to the Grand Staircase. With fine portraits and embroidery, there's a reason the staircase is called grand. The Morning Room was once the historic Chapel of St Mary before it was changed in the 1920s. Fragments of the chapel's ceiling remain and were decorated with part of the Book of Revelation written in Norman French. The Long Drawing Room has stunning wall mirrors and a suite of historic 18th-century gilt furniture embroidered over ten years by the 4th Earl's wife, Lady Elizabeth Drax. Enjoy a variety more rooms inside of Berkeley Castle too.
The Gardens at Berkeley Castle were created when the River Severn was channelled into creating defensive structures, and there was more space to have them. At the turn of the 20th century, Gertrude Jekyll planted terraces at the castle, but previous centuries had already planted flowers to soften the exterior. You can find a Lily Pond, which was originally a swimming pool during the time of the last Earl and his American Countess, with steps leading down to the Great Lawn. With Culloden Pines standing tall still, it's a beautiful bit to visit. The grounds of the Walled Garden also include the butterfly house. The Berkeley Castle Tropical Butterfly House is a magical place to visit. This tranquil space has a variety of rare and exotic species, with 42 different species living in the house from all around the world. The Atlas Moth, the largest moth in the world, lives inside the Butterfly House. Guests can see the lifecycle of these butterflies, from pupae to fully grown butterfly. There are also several plants grown to make sure the butterflies are happy, as well as the temperature having a careful eye kept on it. The resident Chinese painted quail and diamond doves make sure all bugs in the house are controlled. The Butterfly House is not included in the ticket but can be visited without needing to visit Berkeley Castle.
Are you looking to do some exciting things at Berkeley Castle? Events happen throughout the year. For example, have some Halloween fun with Henry VIII & Past Times Living History, meeting his beheaded wives, discovering Tudor cures and more. Want to eat something? You might like the Yurt Restaurant, where you can enjoy a hot drink or snack. You can enjoy a picnic just outside the Walled Garden. You can also get a souvenir at the gift shop.
What to know before you go
- The Berkeley Castle opening times are 11am - 4.30pm. The opening times might change depending on the time of year, so it's always best to check online.
- There are two toilet blocks, including baby changing facilities and accessible toilets, one in the Walled Garden and one near the Education Centre.
- Only service dogs are allowed.
- The first floor rooms are inaccessible for wheelchair users; a ground-level tour is offered instead.
- Some areas of the garden are wheelchair friendly.
- There is no buggy access for the castle, but a Guide at the foot of the entrance steps will keep an eye on any buggies.
- The ticket you buy includes entrance to the Gardens & Castle, a dragon trail around the grounds and a wooded play area.
- For car, the nearest major road is the M5, with signposts to the Castle. The car park is free and has disabled car parking spaces near the entrance.
- The nearest stations are Cam & Dursley or Bristol Parkway. There are some limited buses from the station.
- Berkeley Castle is near the centre of Berkeley, so it's easy to walk.